Published June 10, 2010
NEW ORLEANS—Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory addressed the convocation of the bishops and priests of the Archdiocese of New Orleans on Sept. 17. Following is an excerpt from his talk, entitled “The Alpha and Omega of Our Lives.”
In light of this current Year of Faith, which Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI introduced, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, I believe that 2013 has provided all of us with abundant possibilities to ponder some of the numerous significant world events that have occurred within that half-century time frame. I opted to use the word ponder since it’s the word that we most frequently hear used when describing Mary’s reflective stance during those events surrounding Jesus’ birth and the finding of the adolescent Christ in the Temple when He spoke to His parents about His mission. She thought carefully about what these events and predictions would mean both for Him and for Her. To ponder something implies that we believe that God may be at work in the events and moments of our past and for our future. ….
One of my very favorite liturgical prayers is the one that we now offer in English during the blessing of the Easter candle at the Vigil Mass where we pray: Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, to Him belong all times and the seasons. This blessing prayer references a title from the Book of Revelation the Church proclaims as we begin the great paschal ceremony that assures us of Christ’s dominion over all times—times from the past, our own times with all of their many problems, and the times that are yet to come with their still unknown challenges. There are no moments when Jesus Christ is not in control of creation and over which He does not have ultimate authority.
Even in our darkest hours—and there have been more than a few of them in recent years, the Lord Jesus never loses His control over His Church or abandons us. Great saints whose witness and fidelity never languished have also accompanied every era of suffering that the Church has endured or conflicts in which she might have been engaged.
The great and life-giving paschal mystery of the Lord has mastered every moment in our history and managed to overcome every adversity and every human blunder—including those for which we are responsible in our own times. Furthermore, our futures are all secure in Him who is Lord of every moment and season.
This is constantly a very important prayer for our entire Church but perhaps especially for those of us as priests and bishops in today’s environment where we might easily be given over to believing that the best times for the Catholic Priesthood may have already occurred for us and for the ministry that we share. This is perhaps the unarticulated suggestion of those who believe that if we could just turn back the clock to another moment in time when life seemed to have been more secure and certain, more predictable and controllable that such an adjustment would solve all of our problems and concerns today. There is no turning back in search of a past sanctuary – for those of us who believe in Christ Jesus there is only preparing to live today with courage and to look forward in hope to tomorrow – even as we praise God for the past that in fact has prepared us for today and for tomorrow.